Reconnections by Independent Age launched in two areas in 2020, the first in Barking & Dagenham and Havering, and the second in Guildford and Waverley.
The original Reconnections service was set up by Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Social Finance and other delivery partners and delivered across the county between 2015 and 2020. The new loneliness service for adults (18+) in Worcestershire is delivered by Onside Advocacy.
Who is Reconnections for?
Reconnections is for people aged 65 and over who are feeling lonely and would like to connect with new people, activities or interests. The service is open to people living in one of our two areas (Barking & Dagenham and Havering or Guildford and Waverley). Currently the service is not open to those living in a residential care home or who have dementia. When you refer yourself or someone else to Reconnections, we will tell you a bit more about the service and discuss whether it’s right for you at this time.
How do I refer myself or someone I know to Reconnections?
If you would like to sign up for the service, you (or someone on your behalf) will need to give us a call or fill out a simple online form so that we can contact you for more information. Someone from the team will then talk to you to check the service is suitable for you and have a conversation about what you might like to do with the support of our team.
We welcome referrals from GPs and other health and care professionals, voluntary organisations and the general public. Please check with the person before making the referral on their behalf.
What happens when I contact Reconnections?
You can contact Reconnections directly or someone else (e.g. a friend or family member, a professional, or member of the public) can do so on your behalf. We will then have a brief telephone call and ask you a few questions to check if the service is right for you. Following this, one of our caseworkers will arrange a time to have a longer conversation (usually in person at your home or somewhere quiet nearby) to get to know you better and hear what’s important to you. From here we discuss how we can help you reconnect to your local community, regain confidence and rediscover hobbies you enjoy. It's just a starting point and this is something you and your caseworker or volunteer can adapt over time.
What will I do with Reconnections?
It’s not always fun or easy to go it alone so Reconnections works with local partners to bring together a network of people who want to support each other. From ten-pin bowling to a meal out; to forming a new band; sharing a trip to the cinema or a walk with the dog - we all enjoy something different and our Reconnections team will help match people to what will be fun for them and help them feel better connected. It can be hard to find that motivation or confidence, so we offer one to one support along the way. On average we support people for six months but what happens during this time will differ from person to person – we know that one size does not fit all. Reconnections is a free service but if you decide to take part in local activities or use local transport then these may have a cost, which you would pay directly to them.
What can Reconnections help with?
Our primary goal is to help to improve a person’s social connections, but we understand there are often a number of practical and emotional barriers that may be contributing to someone’s loneliness and isolation. Where we don’t have the skills or expertise in our team, we will work closely with other agencies and professionals to ensure that these needs are addressed. Independent Age has an in-house advice and information team that we can draw on, as well as the network of support services in our local areas.
I’d love to volunteer! How do I apply?
We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! To apply, please fill in our online application form, or contact us by phone or email if you’d like to apply another way or get some more information. When you apply, you will book onto one of our interactive training sessions (offered in person or online, during the day, evenings and at weekends to fit your schedule). We will also ask you for two references and apply for a DBS criminal record check on your behalf. Once these checks are complete, we will match you with someone in your area and you can get started!
What will I do as a volunteer?
Volunteering with Reconnections is designed to be fun and flexible. Once you’ve completed the volunteer training and checks we will match you with a local over-65 based on both your interests, and you will provide companionship, encouragement and ideas to help them make new friends and enjoy new experiences. Typically, volunteers will meet or speak with their match once a week but it’s up to the two of you to decide what you want to do together that will support them with their goals for reconnection. You will be supported by a Volunteer Coordinator and Caseworker plus your fellow volunteers, and we will check in with you regularly to share ideas, hear about progress and support you with any concerns you have.